Catholic Responsible Investing

The Orange Catholic Foundation (OCF) has been blessed to serve the Diocese of Orange, its parishes and schools, by currently managing 67 funds totaling more than $44 million. But this huge task carries great responsibility. “We understand that the deeply held values of our Catholic faith go hand in hand with our investment strategies,” said Cindy Bobruk, president and executive director of the Orange Catholic Foundation. “Catholic investors expect it and our mission reflects it: we raise, manage, grow and grant funds that support Catholic values and each donor’s intent.” From parish and school endowment funds to Christ Cathedral campaign donations, the Orange Catholic Foundation manages and grows funds with the assistance of Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), a Catholic socially responsible asset management firm founded in 1981 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. CBIS manages $7 billion in assets globally, with investors that include Catholic dioceses, colleges and universities, religious institutes and health care systems.

CBIS employs investment strategies that screen companies involved in activities that fundamentally contradict Catholic ethical and social teachings — screens are intended to help Catholic investors avoid profiting from the products or services of these companies. CBIS’ Catholic investment screens address life ethics (covering abortion, contraception, and human embryonic stem cell research), violence (weapons manufacturers), tobacco and pornography producers. CBIS also seeks to influence corporate behavior in order to promote human dignity (i.e., human trafficking, pornography and child sexual exploitation); economic justice (i.e., worker rights, responsible banking, and access to health) and environmental stewardship (climate change, water sustainability).

“If you believe in the teachings of the church, you want to make sure that your investments align with the right companies,” said Ric Brutocao, a parishioner at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Laguna Hills and a member of the Christ Cathedral Campaign Task Force. “Your biggest advantage as a Catholic investor is allowing your voice to be heard on issues that matter to you like poverty, which Pope Francis highlighted during the Year of Mercy.”

Julie Tanner, Director of CBIS’ Catholic Responsible Investing team, oversees the implementation of the screening program that seek to ensure that no OCF investments are in companies that violate Catholic teaching. Along with the screens, CBIS engages with companies to encourage changes in their corporate policies, and in industries as a whole. CBIS’ active ownership efforts are accomplished through engagement with corporate management, shareholder resolutions and proxy voting.

For example, CBIS along with other faith-based coalitions might approach a large corporation who is not aware that its suppliers engage in child labor or indentured servitude. With information presented by CBIS and coalition members, these active investors might affect great change by asking the large corporation to demand action from suppliers.

“I have seen an incredible amount of change because of our intervention and our work with companies, and Catholic institutions have often been among the leaders in this work,” said Tanner. “Catholic investors are more aware of the power of active ownership that might change corporate behavior. And I think companies have a greater awareness of their role and what they need to do to protect shareholders from risk and to protect human rights and human dignity.”

Catholic investors also expect highly competitive returns on their investment, something OCF believes Catholic investors need not compromise on when screening companies that might violate Catholic teaching.